Do you feel like everyone around you is making strides, getting things done and you are flying solo; stuck with no momentum on getting your own goal, challenge or project off the ground? According to research by the University of Scranton, 92% of people that set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them. That’s a staggering percentage of people who struggle with getting to the end zone. To what can we attribute this lack of follow through? A myriad of possible reasons come to mind: fear of failure (leading to the tendency to procrastinate), fear of success (tied into fear of change, if you try something new and succeed, you are suddenly in unchartered territory), perfectionism, lack of a clear vision, poor organizational skills or habits…
If perfectionism is what’s stopping you in your tracks and leading to procrastination, consider that “done” is better than “perfect”. In the words of renowned motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. Imagine what life would be like if all the great masters of art: Picasso, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, didn’t pick up the brush or chisel because they were afraid their work would suck. None of us would be able to witness, wonder and be inspired by their work. Their perfectionism would have triggered a domino effect, wherein all the work that was born from the inspiration of their work would never have been created at all. It’s easy to see how our own perfectionism can stunt our potential. In the words of Picasso, himself, “Action is the foundational key to success”. So, make the first mark on the canvas of your life and don’t worry about the masterpiece; just take it brush stroke by brush stroke.
If you lack clarity, consider the words of Thomas Jefferson who said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask – Act! Action will delineate and define you.” When we lack clarity or feel overwhelmed and confused, we can ask ourselves, “What’s the next right step?”Just one question, with one answer. We know the answer, especially if we don’t second guess ourselves because we are worried that it’s not the perfect course of action. It’s easy to get overwhelmed about wanting to know all the right steps or answers before we are even started, but if we trust that we know the first step to take, taking it will give us momentum and we will discover and learn along the way. After that step is completed, we ask ourselves again “What is the next right step for me to take?” That step will reveal itself. It may not come to you immediately, but trust that it will come. Taking action will always lead to learning something about oneself. And that, in turn, will prompt a course of action.
When we don’t take the action steps towards our goals, we are left feeling far from good. It is easy to spiral down even further as we feel our self esteem plummet and at this point, it’s easy to throw in the towel completely. Taking action puts us in the driver’s seat. When we aren’t doing the driving, then life ends up driving us. That unsettled feeling of discontent is the knowing that we aren’t doing the driving in our life.
Grab the keys because you are going to hop in and take the wheel right now. Each of us has the power to move mountains. Take a moment, look into your past, and you are bound to discover a set of achievements which at one point may have seemed like far reaching, maybe even, impossible goals. And yet, you’ve done it. You got the job that you may have felt unqualified for, or you’ve trained and ran the half-marathon, or made it through college despite having to work and raise children … .You’ve challenged yourself and won and you can do that again; many times over.
Questions to ask yourself/ Steps to Take:
1. Clarify your goal. What does the ideal outcome look like, long and short term? What will achieving that goal bring to your life that you don’t have now? TIP – Write it all out (in the present time) What will it look like when you get there, how do you feel? Use descriptive words that exude the images, the excited energy, etc…Read it every morning and night to keep the dream alive and inspire action.
2. Download your current situation right now in relation to your goal. What steps are you taking now? How often are you doing them? What is the gap between your goal and your present reality? Is this goal conflicting with any other goals?
Exploring options – What’s in the way of taking action? What do you need to start or stop doing to achieve this goal?
TIP – Explore what habits of yours are conflicting with you taking your desired actions and institute new habits that support your movement forward. Example – If you need more time to work on your goal and the only time you can do it is in the early morning, consider going to bed at 9 PM the night before instead of 11 PM and waking up two hours earlier so you can do the work.
Motivating action – Ask yourself, “How important is it for me to reach my goal on a scale of 1 to 10?” also, “What opportunities could open up for me if I were to realize my desired outcome?”
3. Come up with a plan that’s broken down into realistic steps (give each one a timestamp that’s reasonable and not too demanding). Do one step at a time and make adjustments as you go. Remember, if a plan is too daunting to think of, do the next best thing. Take the first step and see where that leads you.
TIP – Determine who can support you on your journey and hold you accountable for taking your steps. Having an accountability buddy, maybe someone who wants to work on their own goals as well, is a great way to motivate and inspire each other. Be discriminating and spend time with those who support your goals. If you have friends or family who don’t encourage what you are trying to achieve, it may be best to keep them out of the conversation and spend time with those whose passion, determination and sticktoitiveness you admire. Read books and listen to podcasts of people who inspire you. Come up with a reward for yourself that you will treat yourself to when you cross the finish line. Create an affirmation that resonates with you and write it on a post it note where you can see it . One of my favorite affirmations is: “When I use my moments for my momentum, I create the life I want.”
Having a simple plan with clear steps and a realistic time frame combined with determined action will set the framework for managing your journey. Keeping an open mind and realizing that things will come up and making adjustments to your action plan to compensate for the unexpected is part of the process. Above all, keep your eye on the prize. There will be times when you will falter. When that happens, don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track. It helps to remember that those who “make it” out there, our models of success, the one thing that they share in common is that they kept at it. Through failures and adversity, they picked themselves up hundreds of times and inevitably, they got to their finish line. Your finish line is right around the corner. Say it, think it, plan it, do it. You got this.
We’ve all heard the expression to “live in the flow”. What does living in the flow mean to you? What does it feel like to live in the flow and what is required to get there?
To me, living in the flow means swimming along in rhythm with life’s ups and downs. We know that life has a rhythm because we have experienced its ebb and flow. We’ve had times when good things come our way and we feel like we are on a roll. When we finally get our dream job, or when we are in a relationship with someone we think could be “the one”; it’s an awesome feeling. Then, inevitably, something happens that puts an abrupt halt to our flow and it’s like a barrier has been placed before us. Suddenly, we are cut off from our blissful state of equanimity. The unwelcome intruder can come in the form of something small, like a flat tire on the way to work, or something big, like an unexpected layoff, or medical diagnosis. And just like that, our flow has shifted and we aren’t swimming with the dolphins anymore, we feel as though the dolphins are now sharks and our current environment has completely shifted.
Knowing that the ebb and flow of life is here to stay, how do we get to the point where we are living in the flow even in the tough times?
A good first step is recognizing that along with the good times, come the not so good times. Cultivating awareness is key to being able to roll with the punches when they show up. When we pay attention to how we are feeling on a daily basis, and notice when we start to feel uncomfortable, we start to identify what triggers our discomfort, what blocks us from feeling good, and what keeps us from getting what we need or want. We start the process of self-discovery by being curious about how we are feeling and reacting and what is getting in the way of our desired outcome. Self awareness gives us the presence of mind to anticipate when we are in that moment of disequilibrium and the power to recognize how best to handle the situation without undue reactivity.
This year, one of the intentions I set for myself was to feel less agitation when unwanted situations arise. I noticed that when I have an expectation about something and that something doesn’t work out the way I’d like, it sets me off. It’s not always a big deal, but I don’t want to react negatively. I don’t want to be the person who makes negative comments under my breath, or who gets irritated too easily by not getting my way. So, I’ve been practicing to rewire my reactiveness. Learning how to navigate with the least amount of resistance during those periods paves the way for living in the flow.
Living in the flow, essentially, is knowing that although the tough times will come, they will also go. And interestingly enough, when we don’t fight with what is, “what is” will go away much quicker. I realize that how I react to something is a choice that I make. I have the power to react in a way that is more peaceful, or in a way that carries on feelings of anger and resistance. This is not to say that changing one’s behavior and reactions can happen overnight, but having the desire to change, coupled with the tools to support the change makes the going much easier.
Below are some tools to support living in the flow. Note which ones resonate with you and see if you can start a new positive habit to encourage living in the flow.
Regular check-ins during the day or week- Ask yourself, “How am I feeling? What can be adjusted to give me what I need?”
Taking pauses during the day– Take 3 restorative long breaths, following the breath as it fills up your lungs and as you release it slowly through the nose. Or do the Box Breathing method which is releasing all the breath in your lungs through a deep exhale, then breathing in slowly through your nose for a count of four, holding for a count of four and then releasing the breath for the count of four and repeating that cycle three times.
Meditation daily and/or mindful action- A little goes a long way, so if you are not a regular meditator, even 5 minutes a dayof sitting with focused attention on your breath and your body, and releasing the mind, or focusing strictly on a particular task at hand will provide significant benefits.
Developing a compassionate mindset– Noticing when you are being judgmental with yourself and others and learning to be compassionate instead will make a significant difference in bringing flow and peace in your life. Asking yourself, “would I talk to my best friend that way? Turn your negative statement into a positive one and feel the difference it makes in your day.
Ask yourself what makes you feel restored and happy and make an effort to include that in your life. Sometimes not doing what we love is what keeps us from living in the flow.
We are all works in progress, bringing balance and flow into our lives is a choice. We can let life take its course, or we can show up for ourselves and do the things that will take us to our desired state. Looking inward with curiosity and asking ourselves questions help us cultivate the awareness needed to make the changes necessary to live in the flow.
How do your daily habits support or undermine living in the flow?
Is there something that is missing in your daily life?
Is there something that is blocking you from feeling in the flow? What adjustments need to be made?
What change(s) can you commit to?
Living in the flow isn’t about what happens to us, it is about how we choose to react to what happens to us. Getting there is a journey that starts with a desire and a single step. With the efforts come the rewards: self awareness, resiliency, equanimity, opportunity and peace, to name a few. How ready are you to take the first step? Who can support you along the way? I’ll be walking down that road. I hope to see you there.
….Do we derive meaning from our work, or from spending time with our families, or by building a sense of community? Do we find meaning by donating our time or money; or by fulfilling our personal dreams and goals? Is finding meaning about discovering our purpose and passion, or is it a combination of everything? Are we born with a sense of our purpose, or do we discover it along the way? How do we give our lives meaning?
We’ve asked our community of coaches how they find meaning in their lives, and what they do to keep it.
A while back and after losing my job and with too much time on my hands, I felt lost and alone. Someone said to me, “You need three things in life: 1. someone to love 2. something to hope for 3. a purpose.” I didn’t have a purpose for so long, and I can see now how essential having a sense of purpose is for my mental health. Now that I found my purpose in Coaching others, I don’t want to ever let it go. I know that over time my purpose will change, I always want to keep my eyes and heart open to what lights me up and fulfills me. As Marie Kondo says, “What if every decision you make, every goal you set and every aspect of your life was guided by what sparks joy?”
I find a lot of meaning in connecting with dear friends and sharing our deepest wishes, fears and inner worlds with one another. I also get a lot of meaning out of seeing my 23 year old daughter thrive in her life. I used to get a ton of meaning out of dreaming up and launching companies, but once I had my daughter, I realized, life is much more meaningful when I devote myself to the love, care and cultivation of another human being. I now get a lot of meaning out of coaching young women who don’t have the resources to work with a coach. I know through our continued relationship that I will support them in finding their voice and in creating the life that they dream of! I also get a ton of meaning when I hear from former clients who are now thriving in their lives and share that our coaching work together was a pivotal part of their process.
This is such a good question; like, what’s the meaning of life? It’s profound and in order to distill it down for me, I came up with the following: doing, giving and receiving.
Doing what I love brings me joy and fulfillment. I don’t think it matters if you do what you love for business, for pleasure, or for both; the important thing is to know what brings you joy and to incorporate enough of that into your daily life. For me, doing what brings me joy means spending time with family and friends, having a creative outlet (making things, going to museums for inspiration), spending time in nature, cultivating a practice of living with integrity and practicing gratitude and compassion.
Giving something of ourselves to another satisfies a basic human need for the giver as well as the receiver. Whether we are giving a smile to someone on the street who looks like they have seen better days, or giving our time, money, or conversation to someone who could use it; being a “giver” brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives. I read somewhere that if you are feeling miserable and lost and can muster up the strength, give your time by volunteering at a soup kitchen, or somewhere that can use your help. Chances are, that you will walk out feeling better than when you walked in.
As humans, we need to love and to be loved. Receiving can be tough sometimes when we aren’t feeling deserving, but it is important to be able to receive graciously. I have to work on that skill from time to time. I receive love from my partner, my family, friends, my pets and from nature.
Sarah E. Spencer:
When I think about what gives me meaning, I could list a zillion things in different categories – wellness, professional, connecting with people, home, travel. As I thought about this question, two central and consistent intentions take focus.
The first intention is the practice of gratitude. An example of gratitude for me is taking ten seconds to thank the newspaper carrier when I see her early in the twilight, or thanking the concert employee working the door on a subzero evening. It can include customizing communication, for example a handwritten note for those who would love to receive one, or a text or DM for those who rarely check their post box or inbox. On the receiving side, I say thank you as it is offered, without previous responses of ‘it was nothing.’ Thank you. “Yin” energy is the second area that brings meaning. For me, yin energy draws on creative energy, currently engaged with Quilting. I love the connection between my hands and making meaning, how quilts acknowledge the change of seasons, and how they unite evening sewing with female ancestors.
As I grow, the answer to this question seems like it would change, but ultimately now when I reflect back, I find that the concept around meaning has not changed. What gives my life meaning is purpose. What defines my Purpose is an ever growing sense of Self Awareness.
When I graduated from college my purpose was to find work in an environment where I was happy and where I felt like I was adding value. It meant doing something professionally that used my strengths in communication, sales and people management. It also meant working at things I cared about, which, for me, is the environment and a sustainable planet. When I got married and had kids, my children moved to the front and center of my purpose. My purpose was to raise children who felt loved, had resilience to tackle life’s challenges, and would become caring and contributing members to our communities. Now that my sons are grown, I find that my purpose is to wrap around the entirety of these two things, my family and my professional contribution. This boils down to a strong sense of Self Awareness, knowing what is important to me, leveraging my strengths and understanding where I can add the most value in creating positive change in my circle of influence. This is what gives my life profound and deep meaning.
Brandi Richard Thompson:
My life has meaning because I can serve. It is important to use my talents and gifts in the service of others. Finding the coaching profession allowed me to see how my talents can be used to enrich the lives of others.
Watching my parents give to others through their church, work, and numerous nonprofit organizations, showed me so many ways that we can show up positively in the lives of others. Sometimes, just a kind word helped to brighten someone’s day or inspire them. I can’t count how many times people have stopped me throughout my life to let me know how my parents had individually or collectively been a blessing to them.
The first time I heard this quote from Marian Wright Edelman, I understood the service ethos of my family. “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” It is through service that I find meaning and joy. As a coach, I get to experience joy every day.
As the clock starts ticking towards the end of a year, many of us start to think about and plan for personal goals to kickstart the new year. And, sometimes, it can be a time when one may feel a bit down on ourselves for not having achieved the goals we set out to do for the year.
Hence, this is a perfect time to shed light on one of my personal favorite topics: intentions vs goals, and the power and beauty of intention. As a Leadership Coach, I truly believe that setting Intentions vs Goals can change your thoughts and change your life.
In this article, I discuss the following topics:
Difference between intentions and goals
Value of setting and living with intentions
Creating positive impact with intentions
Benefits of intentions
Intentions vs Goals
Intentions are not the same as goals.
What’s the difference?
Goal setting focuses on specific tasks we aim to achieve in the future. It sounds great, yet in essence, it takes us out of the present moment and creates an emphasis on what we don’t have.
If you have ever set a goal and not achieved it, there can be a sense of failure or not feeling good or worthy enough of this goal. In turn, we may become uncomfortable setting goals or writing down dreams because the thought of them not coming true is harder to bear than proactively giving them a go.
Intentions, on the other hand, focus on the way we want to feel and on the relationship we have with ourselves, others and our environments. Intentions put us in choice vs reaction.
Value of Setting and Living with Intention
Setting and living with intention allows us to be in the present and raise our emotional energy which in turn raises our physical energy. Intentions are empowering as they act as a roadmap for living out each day as well as a means of achieving our goals. Intentions give us purpose, meaning and inspiration.
With intention, we can recognize and live by our values. As Mahatma Gandhi so famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” this is exactly what living with intention does. It puts us in the driver’s seat of the creative force of our lives.
By taking a moment to reflect on our values, we set up a values-based foundation for our lives that comes from within instead of living from external based success measures that are either met or not. With intention we create a positive impact on things that matter to us.
A typical example of goals many people make at the start of the year are to achieve a certain weight by a certain date, or have a new job and be making a certain amount of money. Living with intention would mean to declare how we aim to feel as we reach for these goals.
For weight goals, the intentions could be to have more energy and live a healthier lifestyle. In finding a new job, the intention could be to have fun, learn new skills, and meet other people in the process. This way, whether the exact goal is met or not, we can measure our success from our internal scale.
These intentions are in our immediate control and affect the wellbeing of our lives.
Intentions can be set for every task of the day, especially those which we deem less desirable.
For example, I have a long commute to work every day. If left on autopilot, my mind can wander into the drudgery of a commute and traffic. However, my intention is to be curious. To discover the awe and beauty I can pick up along the way.
I am amazed at how many things I find and how much peace and joy this brings me. I arrive at work in a happy and well state. It comes from a simple mindset shift and setting the intention.
Imagine the changes that can take place within your body as you begin to consciously give intention to positive choices.
Setting intentions can help you get out of your head by focusing on something that has a positive impact in your life.
Stating how you intend to feel or what you intend to focus on puts the power of change in your own hands. For example, when my mind is racing into a negative spin, I raise my awareness and take a pause.
Whether out loud or silently to myself I can state, “I intend to live in gratitude for all that I am and have. I am the creative force of my life and choose to bring positive energy to any given situation to influence change.”
Benefits of Intention
Because life is a journey, not a destination, intentions allow us to find more joy in the journey, as we aim for the destined goals.
Further benefits of intention:
A Way of Being
Brings Choice and Freedom
We see that it is the sum of all the small moments of awe and being in the present moment that intentions bring in living a meaningful life.
Interactive Workshop on Reflections and Intention Setting
Coach Brand Richard Thompson and I are hosting a 90-min, virtual, interactive workshop on Reflections and Intentions Setting to bid farewell to 2022, and welcome in 2023. Sign up here.
Michelle Mueller Ihrig is an Operations Leader, a Professional and Teams Coach, Consultant and Facilitator. Her philosophy of Leadership with Heart empowers leaders to embrace authenticity and connectivity to create stronger impact. Michelle’s Executive Wellness Coaching program is based on NLP (neuro linguistic programming) for growth mindsets and perspective shifts, Breatheology, and Mindfulness practices.
In this article, I want to share my journey on overcoming my fears of discovering my true feelings.
I share my story and my journey in the hopes of inspiring other men (and others) to consider the price we pay for locking our emotions, using generationally passed modes of behavior that result in so much emotional damage, and end up harming our closest and most loved relationships.
In this article, I talk about the following topics:
How boys and men are taught to lock their emotions and feelings
Defense mechanisms commonly used against feeling real feelings
Dangers we face in repressing our true feelings
How we are taught to repress our feelings from generation to generation
How to move from repressing true feelings to discovering them
Boys and Men are Taught to Lock Emotions and Feelings
Often, men (including me, in my past) are described as inaccessible, repressed or blocked.
The image of a man with locked emotions is universal.
In fact, many of the world’s greatest myths and legends, both in the East and West, point to the journey a man takes towards freeing himself and others from fears and monsters; only to overcome grave, life-threatening obstacles to transcend, transform, and return a Hero.
Call it what you want; but it’s a universal and common cultural phenomenon amongst men to deny, fake, resist and repress their emotional experience. The repercussions of this are vast.
Men are taught, moreover indoctrinated, by cultural standards imposed at the earliest ages to repress their feelings. Furthermore, generational standards of behavior are imposed and passed down from grandfathers to fathers to sons and grandsons; and from our uncles, coaches, teachers, and friends.
Not only are we taught to fake or fudge our emotions, but we are also often taught that even having feelings of whatever kind is not allowed.
A malfunctioning form of Stoicism is often the result.
Defense Mechanisms Against Feeling Real Feelings
Ask a man if he even wants to try to feel his true feelings and he commonly says, “Heck no! Why would I want to do that?”
That was me. I was terrified of my own feelings. I realize now we are all terrified of our feelings.
We are terrified because we simply don’t know what our emotions are, how to feel them, how to process them and contextualize them (and thus, don’t know how to fix them, and you know how us guys feel when we can’t fix things).
We don’t know what will happen if we examine our emotions; maybe the entire world we have constructed will come tumbling down and we will be annihilated by them.
Will the emotions overtake us and run away with our lives?
Will I end up in a pool of tears with my friends, family, and loved ones pointing and laughing at me?
Will I be forever seen as weak, ineffective, soft, impotent?
Here’s another key truth, and I know you can relate to this: there’s a large part of us that just wants to be annihilated or disappear anyway.
That’s why we smoke, drink, gamble, take up adrenaline high-risk sports, escape in TV, watch porn, and the list goes on…
Because the pain we feel inside is SO great and because we are so afraid of what the truth of our being wants to say to us that we will distract ourselves with ANYTHING to get away from it.
Anything. Yes, Anything.
Dangers of Repressing True Feelings
As men grow older, these defense mechanisms become more entrenched, more refined, deeply ingrained, and unfortunately, they begin to have devastating consequences.
Studies have shown the repression of emotions can cause anxiety, stress, depression and can manifest physically as pain, loss of sleep, fatigue, digestive issues, and increases risk of death by cardiovascular disease and cancer.
And what do they fear the most?
Feeling the breadth and depth of their emotions.
Generational/ Inherited Fear of Discovering True Feelings
In my case, growing up, my father was a sensitive person, but I could never access him.
In hindsight, I have a ton of compassion for him as he couldn’t even access himself and he was shut down. When my father was 12 years old, he witnessed his father getting kicked by a horse. This happened during wartime and unfortunately, there weren’t doctors available to tend to my grandfather because the soldiers were a priority.
Sadly, my grandfather died in my father’s arms from internal bleeding. So began the block of deep trauma and unhealed emotions that my father suffered.
Isn’t it uncanny that my father then sent me away to boarding school when I was just 12 years old?
That’s when the pattern began in me! Perhaps, because my father was so inaccessible, I pushed him away myself and in turn, shut down my feelings of longing to be closer to him.
Using Sports to Stop Discovering True Feelings
It may seem healthy on the outside when boys often throw themselves into sports. But, while sports may be great outlets for emotions, they are also perfect places for boys and men to escape.
For me, it was swimming. From the age of 8, I started swimming every night. By the time I was 12, I was a competitive athlete. At one point, I was number 1 in the world for performance and was on the French National Swimming Team. I was an Olympic hopeful.
In hindsight, I recognize that in some ways, swimming was also a distraction from my emotions.
As I was looking at the Olympics at 17 years old, I suddenly quit as I also had a great fear of success. And, once I didn’t have swimming to distract myself from my feelings, I discovered pot, and soon that became my great escape to avoid discovering my true feelings.
What Hiding True Feelings Does to a Man
As I lived a very successful outward life, here is what I began to understand:
I couldn’t communicate.
I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling because I didn’t know.
I lived with an existential feeling of wanting to disappear.
I wanted to just check out… through anything possible: smoking cigarettes, drinking, and more.
While I was, and continue to be a very healthy person, I still wanted to disappear. I was in constant pain in my stomach. It’s like there was a secret wish to destroy myself, but without the desire to commit suicide.
My world was either black or white: I was either sad or happy and because I didn’t want to be sad, I often pretended I was happy even when I was sad… all the while not having any language for the complexity of my emotions and so I just kept finding ways to escape.
As life went on, I was honestly in a lot of pain.
I was married for 30 years, had 3 beautiful sons, and I still was in pain. I had a lot of opportunities come my way with business and work, and a lot of the time, I avoided them because of the pain.
And, I didn’t know why. I was just in pain.
Moving From Fear Into Discovering True Feelings
Then, I met my second wife. Because I trusted her so much and because she made me feel safe, I was willing to tell her how lost I was when she asked me, “How are you feeling and what’s happening?”
I was terrified because I didn’t have any answers for her. It was honestly her unconditional love for me and belief in me that got me to take the leap and walk the plank from Fear into Feelings.
It was a lot of work but once I took the leap, I continued on this journey with therapy, workshops, books, and coaching.
Here are some of activities that helped break the barriers to my true feelings:
Honestly, the best way to learn is to teach, and the coaching process has helped me internalize and live what I had learned.
I’ll admit, it hasn’t been an easy road.
Once I was able to access and name my feelings, I got way into my head. I started rationalizing and analyzing my feelings and I was in pain again. I needed to learn some new tools!
Active Dealing with Uncomfortable Feelings
There are many situations when I start feeling uncomfortable with my feelings. These are situations that could trigger my feelings, make me feel overwhelmed, or extremely uncomfortable.
Here are some techniques I use in each of these situations.
Triggered – I slow things down and be gentle with myself and take time to identify where it comes from
Overwhelmed – I create personal space for me to be with my feelings, sit and settle before I get back to the world
Uncomfortable – I let the feelings come without judging them and I find my way to feel and express them.
I treat my feelings like clouds in the sky just passing by.
Sometimes feelings stick around for a bit and then I give myself time to be with that emotion.
If, for example I’m feeling sad and I keep feeling it, I might take more time to be with the emotion but if it’s something transient, I now know it will just pass.
Benefits of Taking the Risk to Understand Feelings
Here are the tue benefits of taking the risk and getting to know the entire breadth of feelings I can have:
I’m not in pain for nothing, every single day
I’m not in fear
Before I was in pain from any kind of trigger: where I felt abandoned, misunderstood, alone, different. Instead of feeling that feeling, I would have rather disappeared.
Now it’s rare that I feel those feelings… I realized those feelings were amplified because I was overcompensating with feeling good when really, I wasn’t feeling good.
I’m closer to myself because I can feel and express my feelings and then because I can communicate with my wife, I’m closer to her. I’m also closer to my wife because I can feel her love and I also love myself.
Now when I don’t feel her love it’s not about her or her love for me, it’s not about me needing something, but instead, finding a way to accept my uncomfortable emotions around things that aren’t often permanent.
The benefit is that I’m not in pain.
And, I’m not pretending to be anything other than who and what I am, and I want to be here now.
Charles is a Relationship Coach who works with people seeking truth and authenticity in who they are and what they do. He is a former entrepreneur, an ex-competitive athlete, and a part of a bi-cultural French American family. Charles coachs in French and English. An Associate Certified Coach, he is also an ICF Mentor Coach, a Facilitator at MMS NorCal and the MMS Worldwide Institute. Founding Circle, MMS NorCal Coaching Collective.
I would hear her say, “You truly can’t love another until you love yourself,” and I was truly confused by what she meant.
I thought that I did love others, so maybe I could skip the self-love part and put all my energy into loving others and that would be ok. (It is true that I was loving others who didn’t love me back btw, and that dysfunctional kind of love is what I used as confirmation that I was indeed unlovable).
I spent so much of my life hating myself, spending countless hours with that negative voice inside me telling me I wasn’t smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough, funny enough, rich enough, or interesting enough. Looking back, I see so much self-doubt, criticism, and judgment on every inch of my being.
It was debilitating.
When I got to my lowest of lows, I had dysmorphia – a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.
When I would leave the house, I believed people were laughing at me because I was so monstrously ugly, disgusting and fat. That led to more isolation, which handed the negative voice a megaphone.
Later in life, my therapist helped me understand that dysmorphia isn’t as uncommon as you would think and is a common result of anxiety.
Therapy was the First Step to Self-Love
Putting all my energy loving and taking care of others worked as a pacifier for a long time, until I met someone who showed up and loved me. It was so uncomfortable, I sometimes hated it. I wondered what was wrong with the guy and was suspicious of what he really wanted from me.
It was so uncomfortable for me that it led me to making a commitment to therapy.
First thing I needed to do was heal from the past, accept myself, forgive myself, and start building myself up again.
I am a rape survivor and this deep wound stayed with me every single day; always present as a reminder of how unlovable, dirty, stupid and reckless I was. I believed that I deserved what I got.
I never thought I would get past this feeling of unworthines. But, talking about the wound during the course of my therapy sessions finally got me to the place of acceptance around this trauma. I began to understand that I didn’t deserve it; that I was and am lovable. That it was NOT MY FAULT.
Yes, the deep wound was a PART of my story, BUT not all of it.
From Therapy to Coach Training: Continuing the Healing
Slowly, I got more comfortable in my own skin. The voices got quieter, and I felt ready to start something new.
My therapist suggested I enroll in MMS Coach Training with Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott. She shared that of all the training she had ever done, this one made the most impact on her life. I trusted her more than myself at the time, so off I went.
I found myself in a room of strangers with an open and curious heart, ready to dive in and see what would happen. It was so much more than I ever would have expected.
I got to know myself better; started to feeling my feelings and then began understanding what truly I wanted in life. From there, I started making choices for myself!
I continued healing my past with the help of the other participants who played different people or parts of myself so I could yell, scream, hit things and practice hard conversations. I this workshop setting, I learned how I could set better boundaries with my mother and family.
I also read Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott’s book, 10 Rules for Being Human and Rule #1: “Love your body, It’s the Only One You’ve Got.” This rule and the entire book left a deep impression on me. This was the beginning of loving my body.
Coach Training Led to Discovering My Purpose
As I myself became a coach, I began to uncover my purpose.
I started to listen and trust myself more than I had ever before.
I allowed love and support into my life, which in turn gave me confidence. Of course, this didn’t happen all at once; the metamorphosis took several years, and it wasn’t always a bed of roses.
I had a lot of anger boiling up inside me, which the people I loved most took the brunt of. There was way too much drinking, and hiccups where I reverted back to unhealthy behaviors…
But, clarity and self-love did make its way into my heart and mind.
And, Oprah was right.
Now I can take on almost any circumstance in life and I don’t make it about me or beat myself up.
Healing into Self-Love
I now know what self-love is.
My life is precious to me now.
I know there is not another human like me.
Everything in my life that I experienced, even the hard stuff is what makes me the one and only ME.
I celebrate the life that I have, the person that I am.
Nobody can take it away and nobody can appreciate and honor myself as much as I can.
I found my power.
I found my passion.
Benefits of Self-Love: An Open and Curious Mindset
My mindset is open and curious, and I take the time to identify my feelings.
If I make a mistake in public, instead of feeling stupid and unworthy I look at the situation, examine my feelings, and try to understand the lesson.
For example, recently I coached in public, and it didn’t go well. In fact, let’s say it was a real bomb…
I spent time reflecting on the experience and looking at the big picture of what had happened.
Here are some of the insights I uncovered during my reflections:
Will this 30-minute coaching session ruin me, the client, or the students? The answer was a resounding No.
I discovered I want to coach more. And, I needed to coach more than a few times a year in public.
And, perhaps, it was time to get a supervisor to watch my coaching sessions.
Amazingly, I did many things right in the session.
In conclusion, I realized that I am ok. I even noticed where I can grow as a coach. Now, I consider this experience to be a gift.
And, very importantly, I never once turned on myself!
Lindsey Taylor-Vivier is an ICF-credentialed Life Coach, Executive Director of MMS Northern California, a Coach Trainer, and Co-Founder of the MMS NorCal Coaching Collective. Lindsey coaches individuals, couples, and groups in transition or when they are feeling stuck or unsure of direction. She also coaches entrepreneurs at the Bay Area non-profit leadership organization, How Women Lead.
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